Clean your hands & nails thoroughly.
Using soap and water, get underneath the nails to remove any dirt. If you have nail polish on, use nail polish remover and a cotton ball to completely clean the nail surface. Use a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover to clear anything left around the edges.
If your nails are long, trim them using a nail clipper or pair of nail scissors. Once complete, file raggedy edges down with an emery board. Round or square off the nail with long, smooth strokes of the emery board against the nail tip (this prevents nail splitting, which can happen if you file using short strokes).
To soften your cuticles so you can push them back with a cuticle or orangewood stick, soak your fingertips in soapy water for a few minutes. Once the cuticles look whiteish, grab your tool of choice and gently push the cuticle into the nail bed. This process shouldn't hurt, so if you feel pain, stop. Also, never cut or tear your cuticle; that could lead to infection.
Start with a clear basecoat to protect your nails. Use three stokes of polish on each nail: Middle, then on each side. Let the basecoat dry, then apply colored polish in the same way. Be sure to let the polish dry completely in between coats. Once you've applied all layers, add a topcoat to protect the color. Quick-dry polish helps set the color. Remove any polish that landed on your skin with a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover.
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